Magnetic Management

Written by Joe Driscoll

November 17, 2009

A magnet is a seemingly ordinary piece of metal that is surrounded by an invisible field of force which affects other magnetic materials nearby. A manager is an otherwise ordinary individual that, when working, appears to be surrounded by an invisible field of force that affects others nearby.

All magnets have two poles. A north pole always attracts, or pulls, a south pole while pairs of like poles, north and north or south and south, repel, or push, each other.

It is common to describe someone as having a “magnetic personality” if they have attractive qualities that “pull” people to them. The key to being a “magnetic manager” is to be certain that the force that you exert is a “pull”, not a “push”.

Play with two simple desk magnets for a moment. Align the poles properly and one magnet will easily pull the other, quickly, efficiently, and in a straight line. Reverse the alignment and the one magnet will push the other. When the invisible force of the magnetic field is used to exert a push, the movement is irregular and inefficient.

Just as the magnetic field can be used to push or pull, a manger can make a conscious decision to exert a push or a pull. When faced with that decision, remember the ease and efficiency of the movement generate when the force exerted is a pull. When the force exerted is a push, it takes longer to generate the same amount of movement.

You can’t “pull” someone ahead if you’re standing behind them. To exert the “pull” of “magnetic management” you must be willing to be out front. Being out front requires leadership and involves some risk.

A “magnetic manager” controls that risks of being out front by planning. Managers are supposed to make good things happen which would not otherwise of happened. What’s new, different, and better this year because we planned it that way. Good results without planning come from good luck rather than good planning.
“Magnetic management” energizes people by instilling in them a sense of purpose. You can’t energize someone by pushing them. It requires leadership by example. That’s the “pull” of “magnetic management”.

“Magnetic management” is a leadership style that requires special emphasis in three areas. Consistency, flexibility, and support.

You will have a difficult time in exerting a magnetic pull on your organization if you are not consistent. A lack of consistency in leadership creates confusion amongst followers. With confusion comes indecision and a lack of initiative. Faced with a lack of initiative, managers are tempted to push. The “magnetic manager” knows however, that it will be more effective to find a way to exert a “pull”.

To enable initiative to develop within an organization, a manger must display some flexibility. A “magnetic manager” wants to pull his or her people to a common objective but recognizes that they need some latitude in how they get there. When a manger permits a reasonable degree of flexibility, energy levels and enthusiasm for the task at hand will remain high. Rigid environments are characterized by lack of initiative and an absence of “magnetic managers”.

A “magnetic manager” creates an environment where people are comfortable in taking chances. If employees are praised when their initiatives are successful and criticized when they fail, initiative will cease to exist. “Magnetic management” requires setting the boundaries for initiative and being supportive when the results aren’t always as good as we would like.

Because its your business, keep two small magnets on your desk. Every now and then remind yourself how much more effective a “pull” is than a push.

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